Super Bowl parties are notorious for “party food” — chili, wings, chips and the like — which can often be unhealthy. But "Super Bowl party" and "unhealthy" don't have to mean one and the same.
For those who want to hold to that New Year’s resolution to lose weight or have a healthy diet, it can be tough to find healthy alternatives at the Super Bowl table. Among the typical Super Bowl party offerings are classics like spicy wings, dips loaded with sour cream and mayonnaise, high-fat, high-salt chips and various alcoholic drinks to wash it all down.
All is not lost, however. Whether you’re the host or a guest, healthy options for your Super Bowl party are available. As a host, you can select a menu and revise recipes. As a guest, you can plan ahead and choose carefully.
Healthy Menu Choices
It’s easy to hit the store and load up on prepared foods for a Super Bowl party. Planning ahead, however, can help you offer healthier choices.
Look for balance in the meal. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) notes that men tend to go for the meat. The missing elements are fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Ensure your Super Bowl table has dishes from all of these food groups. Grill or bake chicken and vegetable kebabs, for instance.
Fresh is usually preferable to canned when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Offer veggie sticks with dips and a large bowl or platter of fresh fruit. The AND notes apples, cranberries and pears — all of which are still in season — make a colorful fruit salad. Add some crunch with sliced almonds. Or, instead of fried potato chips, use whole grain baked crackers.
Modify Those Recipes
A classic recipe can be much healthier with a few changes. For instance, use ground turkey in your chili instead of ground beef to lower fat content.
Food blogger and board-certified health coach Anjali Shah told dailyRx News that hosts could consider baked sweet potato fries: "Cut fries, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes or until crispy," she said.
Or, Shah added, offer “a guilt-free bean dip made with refried vegetarian black beans, mashed avocado, 0% fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, diced veggies (tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, lettuce) and a tiny bit of cheese!”
Baked mozzarella sticks are a skinny version of the fried, high-fat favorite, Shah said. You could also make sliders with veggie burger patties instead of meat.
Guests — Plan Ahead
Going to a Super Bowl party hungry is a serious mistake. You’re likely to eat everything in sight.
The AND suggests you have a snack before you leave home. You can also help balance a planned indulgence by eating a lighter breakfast that morning, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA notes that you should start your party meal with a salad or veggies to help fill you up before you get to the high-calorie offerings.
You should also think about transportation if you plan to drink anything alcoholic — have a designated driver, take money for a cab or look into community sober ride programs.
Make the Right Choices
Once you arrive at the party, don’t rush to the table. Circulate and socialize, the AND suggests, perhaps with a zero-calorie, non-alcoholic drink.
Look over the table and decide what you will eat before you take your plate to the buffet. Try to fill half to three-quarters of your plate with vegetables and fruits, and take only one spoonful of dip. Sample a high-calorie food rather than loading up — take half a slider, for instance, or one chicken wing instead of three. Eat slowly, and move away from the buffet to decrease the risk of nibbling after you’re full.
Don’t Forget Safety
Alcohol and the Super Bowl usually go hand-in-hand. As the host, make sure you offer non-alcoholic drink options like tea, coffee, fruit juices and soft drinks.
Keep an eye on your guests, and if someone appears drunk, call a cab, find a ride or offer a place to sleep it off.
Keep hot foods hot with warming trays or chafing dishes, and put cold foods on a bed of ice. Once the guests have moved on to dessert, put uneaten foods in the fridge.